Engineering and design student insights

Student projects, placements, research and study experiences in the Faculty of Engineering & Design

Munich - First Impressions

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hi,

My name's Will Morgan and i'm one of the four Bath students studying at TUM for the upcoming semester as part of the Erasmus programme. As i'm the last one to write my blog, most of the basics have been covered by the other boys so i'll try my best to look at some other aspects of Munich but i'll start by completely contradicting myself and, like everyone else, explaining my reasons for partaking in the Erasmus programme.

Having been studying at Bath for three years ( as well as a year on placement), I have never really had the full experience of living away from home, and that was something I wanted to try before graduating. I'm from Newport in South Wales which is less than an hours drive from Bath and so every two or three weekends the prospect of a roast dinner and not having to wash my own clothes always led to me going home for a night or two. On my placement year I was working for Laing O'Rourke in Cardiff, and so lived at home so in truth i've never really been out of my comfort zone. I do, however, consider myself quite well travelled for a student and the money I saved during my placement year has allowed me the financial freedom to experience some unforgettable moments over the past two summers, most notably three weeks travelling around Italy with my girlfriend and a month in France for Euro 2016 with some friends!

So the most notable difference between my experience of Munich to Nick, Antonio and Matthew's is accommodation. Similarly to what Nick and Antonio said in their post, I found myself trawling through German student accommodation websites trying to find a room in a shared house in Munich (this is known as a Wohngemeinschaft, or abbreviated to 'WG'). Having sent over 30 messages online and received no responses, I received an email from Studentenwerk München (Munich's Student's Union) offering limited spaces for accommodation on a first-come first-served basis. As I said, I was actually looking for a place to stay when I received the email so replied within 5 minutes and now find myself in Stiftsbogen, the newest student halls to be built in Munich.

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As you can see, the room is pretty basic but it's clean and light and i'm quite happy here. The kitchen and bathroom are shared with 5 other people and they are cleaned twice a week. The biggest bonus of living here is the price: i'm only paying €300 a month, bills and internet included. It takes me just over half an hour to get to the university's main campus door to door using the U-Bahn, which is actually quicker than getting to Bath's campus from Oldfield Park. The one disappointment of the halls so far is that I haven't really met many people. I was expecting something resembling first year in Solsbury Court but the people in my flat all have their own things going on so it has been slightly disappointing on the social front. Having said that, I have only been here for two weeks and i'm sure I will meet people with similar interests sooner or later. The housing situation is much different here in Munich, where the Students' Union covers the city rather than a specific university - almost like Bath having a single union for Bath Spa and University of Bath. On top of this, once you get a place in halls you get to keep that place until you graduate. This means I am not only living with people from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) as well as TUM, but that some people have had their room for several years.

On to my experience of the city so far - I arrived on the 1st October, two weeks before the start of lectures and three days before the end of Oktoberfest. On the day of my arrival I left my house in the UK at around 3am and the travelling left me feeling really drained. I fell asleep at 9pm, giving myself only two more days to experience the festival. I had already spoken to the boys and we'd agreed to meet up on the Monday to celebrate the final day of the celebrations, but I thought i'd head over on the Sunday on my own just to have a look round.

Oktoberfest (1)

After wandering past all the rides and having a look at all of the food on offer I thought it would be a shame not to try a beer so I sat down and ordered myself a stein. By this point it was evening and the tents were all full so the only option was to sit outside in the rain. I got talking to an English tour guide and his father who both lived in Munich, had a few more beers, and before I knew it was in a box in Hofbräuhaus with a group of welcoming Germans.

Oktoberfest (2)

I woke up the next day feeling horrific and it took me the best part of the day to drag myself out of bed. I'd planned to meet the boys at 2pm and turned up some time closer to 7pm. It's safe to say they were slightly ahead of me with the beers and it made for a very entertaining night!

With Oktoberfest done and out of the way, the past two weeks have been spent filling out paperwork, waiting in queues and getting generally frustrated at the ridiculous amount of admin associated with living in Munich as well as the course itself. Arriving two weeks before starting the semester is definitely necessary here, and i'd say i've just about got my head around the education system as a whole. Whilst it might not be too intuitive, if you can work your way around TUMs vast number of websites then you can really take a lot away from one semester here. On top of the course itself, for just €7.50 for the semester you can sign up for the basic pass at the sports centre in Olympiapark. In the centre, you can sign up for courses in pretty much every sport imaginable at no extra cost, where you get two hour lessons every week. I am also in the waiting list for German lessons - this is also completely free and seems very well structured. None of this has actually started yet so I will give an update on it all in my next post.

I want to close out this post just by saying how impressed I am with the city and how glad I am that I chose to participate in the Erasmus programme. Munich has really exceeded my expectations and is much larger than I had expected. Within the next few weeks i'm planning on going to a few football matches at the Allianz Arena, go to a few concerts (they get some great bands playing here) and also explore Bavaria a bit more. I've also got friends and family visiting over some weekends in November and can't wait to show them this city. There's so much culture in Munich, it's just a case of squeezing what I can into my short time here!

 

So that's me done for now,

Bis bald! (I think that's the right thing to say)

Will

 

Taking to the skies with Human Powered Aircraft

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📥  Department of Mechanical Engineering, Student projects, Undergraduate

Author: Lewis Rawlinson, leader of our Bath University Man Powered AirCraft (BUMPAC) team.


In February 2015 seven Aerospace Engineering students were tasked to design a Human Powered Aircraft from scratch. The BUMPAC team designed an innovative aircraft with rigid lift struts and modern composite structure. A year later four of the original members based their final-year engineering projects around HPAs. We came together to revive BUMPAC and continue the work started by HPA teams before us.

Inheriting a skeleton set of wings, a fuselage and a few other components, we set about redesigning and building our aircraft, which would later be christened Angel. I designed and built the drivetrain, as well as taking responsibility for all organisational, admin and logistical tasks for the team. This included dividing jobs, setting deadlines and advising the rest of the team on technical and interface aspects.

Angel’s first flight

In July we took Angel to the airfield for the BHPFC Sywell competition. After fixing damage sustained in transit and waiting for a weather window we attempted our first flight. Unfortunately there were issues with the drivetrain that prevented the propeller from getting to full speed. We anticipated this might be an issue and had already manufactured tensioning devices, but had left these off the aircraft in an attempt to save weight. We fitted our tensioning devices and made a number of adjustments to the aircraft, particularly increasing dihedral and modifying the control system interface.

On the morning of July 20th weather conditions looked perfect. With a slight headwind the team rolled the aircraft out onto the concrete apron, pointed into the wind and started pedalling and pushing hard. Angel leapt six feet into the air taking the whole team by surprise. Unfortunately she then lost a lot of airspeed causing her to stall and come crashing back down a few seconds later. Nevertheless, with this taste of success we set about fixing the damage again and making more adjustments. This time looking for more stability and easier control!

24 hours later Angel flies again

Just 24 hours later the team were back out and ready for more, but with no wind this would be a much harder effort. Lining up again on the concrete apron, pointing out towards plenty of space the props started spinning and the aircraft accelerated, very quickly running out of tarmac and bumping along the grass to a gentle stop. The team rolled her back as far as possible, lined up and went again. This time Angel accelerated more quickly, tapped onto the grass and with a pull of the stick lifted gently into the air. Alarmingly in taking off, she had rolled slightly and started turning right towards the hangars. The pilot (me) pulled off the power, touched down and rolled to a stop. Crisis averted with no damage! We put Angel away for the first time without damage. A very welcome respite.

34 seconds of flight

Throughout the next day we tinkered and rested, eagerly awaiting the evening’s flying. This time the team made their way all the way up to the end of the main runway. When the all clear was given, the props slowly started spinning up, the ground handlers started running, the front wheel lifted off the ground and a few seconds later the rear followed suit. Flying just above the ground Angel swept down the runway gracefully, eventually touching down 34 seconds later. She pulled off the runway and came to a gentle stop, caught by the ground handlers who had been following behind on bicycles. I collapsed to the floor, overwhelmed by the effort and joy of what had been achieved. Angel once again went away unharmed.

Angel's final flight

Dawn broke on the last Saturday of the competition. The controls and cg had been slightly adjusted in the hope of reducing the power requirement and making it easier to take-off. The latter was achieved arguably too successfully. With a slight headwind, Angel set off down the runway under full pilot power, climbed and rolled aggressively, and came back down with an almighty crack. The left wing tip caught the ground and tore the wing from the fuselage, shattering a handful of ribs, destroying the centre section of the wing and tearing the fuselage apart at the base of the chain tube. With that, the competition was all but over for us.

I’m proud of the incredible success that was achieved by just four passionate guys with buckets of enthusiasm. The remains of Angel were packed away and sent back to the University of Bath, in the hope that the next generation will carry her on and make her great once again.


Find out how UK universities are embracing Human Powered aircraft to promote engineering skills.

The problem of comfort in prosthetics

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📥  Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Student projects, Undergraduate

Author: Oscar Rovira (2nd year Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering student).


There are thousands of amputations per year in war-torn countries due to mines. The current process of multiple castings and weeks of testing for every individual prosthetic limb has remained relatively unchanged for fifty years. This is a time consuming and costly process for a standard prosthetic (prices can range from £4000 to £40,000).

3D printing technology is developing prosthetic technology at a reduced price, but there remains comfort and reliability issues. As part of my first-year project I decided to focus on developing affordable, comfortable prosthetics. In the end, no matter how robust a prosthesis is, if it’s not comfortable to wear, then it won't be used.

Developing a prototype

Once I knew my objective, I started drawing and sketching all the ideas that came to my mind: from developing a fully 3D printed design of a robotic leg that could automatically adapt to the limb, to creating a prosthesis which could be “built” by the customer (imagine Lego pieces constructing and improving their design). After two weeks of crazy designs and research I decided that the quickest way to solve the problem of comfort was to create a tool that could analyse the stiffness of the stump at any point. This would reduce the forces that the socket applies to the hard tissue, thus reducing any soreness due to bad force distribution.

Inspired by the FitSocket from MIT, and with the objective of reducing the cost whilst maintaining reliability, I started writing all the specifications that “Rijido” (the name I gave my project) needed. Once I had all the measurements and data I spent three days doing all the CAD designs that I would later 3D print. Once all the parts were printed, I started troubleshooting with the prototype and assembly until I got a much better result. Then I used a solder to attach all the wires to the prototype and I connected an Arduino with a bit of code in order to retrieve all the data. After one month Rijido’s first prototype was born!

Seeking funding and promoting my project

I would say that there’s nothing more fulfilling than to see hard work, passion and dedication finally paying off, but that's not where the story ends. I posted my project on Instructables and I applied to a seed accelerator named Imagine to receive feedback and promote Rijido. Although I didn't receive funding from the seed accelerator in the end, I still managed to finish third out of two hundred applicants.

A prosthetist from South Carolina noticed my project on Instructables and expressed an interest in using Rijido as a tool in his practice. It was so exciting to see that my project was actually something people were already looking for. This prosthetist got in touch with the MIT Department of Biomechanics, which then contacted Arthur Petron, a postgraduate who holds the patent alongside Hugh Herr (a heavily influential person in the area of biomechanics) of FitSocket. It was amazing to talk on LinkedIn with the person (Arthur) who first inspired me. Rijido was also then selected as a finalist for the TEDxBarcelona Awards 2016.

Passion and perseverance

Fun, stress, excitement, uncertainty…I would say that the whole journey of making Rijido was a combination of these emotions. The fact that I could use 3D printers, get spare parts and work both in the mechanical and electrical workshops at any time, was the most fun part. I felt like a kid in a ball pit.

Thanks to Rijido I have learnt a host of things! In terms of technical skills, I have mastered how to use 3D printers, I have developed my skills at using turning machines, drawing, CAD modelling and project management. The project also introduced me to different business strategies. In terms of personal skills, I have gained more confidence in myself and improved my communication skills. I’ve learnt again that the combination of passion and perseverance can make any idea into reality and verified how errors and mistakes during the design process are key to producing a much better final product.

Definitely only one of the many more projects yet to come…

Find out more about Rijido.

A glimpse of Munich - Part 1: Arriving & lots of beer!

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

CivilEngAbout Us

Guten Morgen! Let us introduce ourselves. We are Antonio and Nicklas, two final year Civil Engineering students from Bath, currently starting our ERASMUS exchange at the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Munich.

While we were originally planning on going to UEM in Madrid, due to some administrative issues, this was not an option in the end. The choice of Madrid was mainly because of the city. However, looking back, Munich is definitely the right choice, taking both the city and the academic reputation of the university into account.

So why go on ERASMUS? As we both come from outside the UK, we were both keen to go explore university life abroad somewhere else. Being on a 4-year master program, we don’t have the opportunity to do a masters somewhere else. ERASMUS provides the opportunity of doing that. It is also a great opportunity to meet students from all over the world and to learn a new language! If you aren’t willing to throw yourself out there in a new culture and place, we certainly wouldn’t recommend ERASMUS!

 

About Munich and TUM

Munich is the 3rd largest city in Germany. Located in the south eastern part, it is only train ride away from Austria. The city has a rich history which we are not going repeat here (see Wikipedia) but we will definitely tell you about some of the many attractions and museums we will be visiting. Otherwise the city is of course known for its beer and fun fact, TUM is actually the only university in the world with its own brewery!

TUM was founded in 1868 and specializes in Engineering, natural sciences and life sciences. It is currently top 50 in the world and has been advancing steadily in the rankings. It is located across 4 campuses in Munich with the department of Civil, Environmental and Geo Engineering located at the central campus. The university currently has 13 Nobel laureates and has been home to the inventors of the fridge, diesel engine and the first jet-powered aircraft.

Panorama view of Munich city center

Panorama view of Munich city center

 

Finding accommodation

If you thought finding accommodation in Bath, wait until you get to Munich! The university itself acknowledges the struggle and does not guarantee accommodation. We eventually found ours on AirBnB after trawling through lots of German rental sites. We did however leave the house hunting a bit late and only started looking in August. We highly recommend starting to look in May-June and to not underestimate the task. We have heard that there are still students looking for a permanent place.

Our accommodation is a cosy four bedroom flat located in a nice area of Munich just south of the centre right next to the Poccistrasse tube stop. We are sharing with two German students. We have everything we need in walking distance including several supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants & bars, and a laundromat. For reference, we are paying just over 700 EUR each (including all utilities and internet). University accommodation is a lot cheaper but as it is the most expensive city in Germany and because of the housing shortage, this is a realistic price if you want to live close to town. On the plus side food and other living amnesties (especially beer!) are cheaper than the UK.

 

Practical stuff on arrival

There are a few practical tasks to be completed upon arriving in Munich. First of all, you need to register with the local authorities in a Bürgerburo. This is a simple task that requires both you and your landlord to fill out separate forms. With these forms and a valid passport, you will need to go to one of the registration centres dotted around the city. Don’t worry, there is plenty of information about this on TUM’s website and during the induction talks. There are even volunteers that offer to take you there if you are feeling really uncomfortable with it. Queues at the centres are extraordinary so we would advise arriving at least half an hour before they open. Our local centre opened at 7.30 in the morning but at 6.50, there were already 40 people waiting outside and by the time the doors opened, there were over 200! You will need the confirmation of registration to open a bank account which you can do for free with most of the German banks. While you can get by without a German account, it is need for any subscription services such as gym memberships, phone contracts and internet.

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The main campus where our department is located

 

Choosing modules and induction

The great thing about TUM is that you get to choose all of your modules! Don’t worry about getting your subject list spot on when filling in your learning agreement as you get to choose again once you are registered at the university. While most of the courses are in German, there are over 150 courses available in English so there is the opportunity of studying something you wouldn’t have gotten to do at Bath. You have to register to each of the modules online and some courses have a participation limit so don’t leave this too late!

The system is not very intuitive but it works and the professors are all very keen to answer questions so e-mail them if in doubt.

Otherwise the first two weeks have been induction focussed. Theuniversity has organized events and trips every day. The events cover everything related to settling in, living in Germany and studying at TUM. The trips range from city tours all the way to day trips to Nuremburg.

The university seems incredibly welcoming to its exchange students with over 1000 inbound this year. They will continue to organise weekly events and trips throughout the year and also offer plenty of language courses. Everyone speaks very good English so don’t be afraid to come here if you don’t speak a word of German! (Antonio doesn’t!)

 

The social side of Munich

So far, the biggest social event has of course been the Oktoberfest! The Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of the greatness of beer and has its roots back in 1810 as a wedding celebration. The festival itself is located in the Theresienwiese in the centre and is a huge fairground with the main focus being the large beer “tents” (more like halls). If you are not into beer, there are plenty of rides, food stands and a good familial atmosphere. It is an event for the whole family. The beers do not mess about and come in the famous 1l mass glasses from one of the main five breweries in the city. A evening in one of the tents is quite an experience (for you and your wallet) but should be on everyone’s bucket list. Definitely worth the hangover. Be prepared to dance on the tables and speak & sing more German than you knew you could! Prost!

Other social activities have been at a minimum so far as admin tasks have taken priority so stay tuned! Though we have had time to explore the beautiful city centre and sample some of the local food which we will talk more about in our next post.

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Augustinerbräu tent - Oktoberfest

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Matthew, Nick, Antonio - representing Bath at Oktoberfest 

 

Getting around

In general, the Munich’s transportation network is very efficient and reliable (clearly not by the same companies as in Bath!) so there are plenty of ways to get around. The network consists of the U-bahn (tube), S-bahn (city train), regional trains, trams and buses so its allowed to be picky. Otherwise traffic is light and Munich is cycle friendly so walking and cycling are great ways to get around too. As part of your registration fee, you get to use your TUM student cards as a valid ticket on the whole network in a 30km radius. This is valid from 6pm to 6am on weekdays and all day weekends & bank holidays. To upgrade to a 24/7 pass costs 189 EUR for the semester and can be done at any U-bahn station.

We live about 35 minutes walking away from the main campus. To get the most out of our time here, we have chosen to buy bikes. They are easy to find and can be bought in decent quality at any flea market for as little as 50 EUR.

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Our route to campus!

 

Semester dates

One thing to keep in mind with Munich is that semester dates are slightly dissimilar to Bath. Courses start mid-October with the previous two weeks being induction. They run until the first week of February so they actually overlap with the start of second semester in Bath. Therefore, it is uncertain how and where we will take our exams as these usually taken in March. Agreements will have to be made with each professor individually but the university has been very supportive and will do the organizing for us.

 

This has been all for now. Tschüss!

 

Algorithms to improve medical imaging

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📥  Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Postgraduate

Author: Ander Biguri, PhD student from our Engineering Tomography Lab.


Having clear, non-blurred images is key for medical imaging, especially during radiation therapy. Knowing the exact location of a tumour helps to target treatment and protect healthy tissue. Motion artefacts are a challenging issue for medical imaging and any sort of motion will lead to blurry images (similar to when moving a standard camera whilst taking a photo).

To improve this we have developed TIGRE, our fast, free and accurate 3D X-ray image reconstruction toolbox (created by the University of Bath Engineering Tomography Lab and CERN). We hope this will be used by the community, and most importantly, hospitals. The toolbox is based on Cone Beam Computer Tomography (CBCT). This is a type of scanning process that takes a series of 2D X-ray pictures and processes them into a 3D image.

Medical imaging

Traditional medical imaging

Increasing the speed of motion correction algorithms in TIGRE

The algorithms we accelerated in graphics processing units (GPUs) are now fast enough to be used in clinical scenarios. I adapted these algorithms to be faster by modifying them to run on a laptop fitted with a GPU. These algorithms can lead to improved image quality and some of them can work with very low amounts of data, thus potentially reducing radiation doses to patients. This could in turn help to increase patient survivability rates.

We are also currently working on motion correction, by using techniques developed 20 years ago at the Proton Synchrotron at CERN by Steven Hancock. I was involved in translating this concept from Phase Space to X-ray tomography. Phase Space tomography (tomography performed in an accelerator) uses known motion models to update tomographical information during algorithmic image reconstruction, essentially removing all known motion happening from the image. This technique has now been translated to X-ray tomography.

Imaging from TIGRE

Imaging from TIGRE - fast and more accurate 3D X-ray image

European Network for LIGht ion Hadron Therapy poster prize

Programming on GPUs is very tedious, but I am proud of achieving a code that can run in milliseconds rather than minutes (or what once took hours or days). I really enjoyed translating the methods used at a particle accelerator to a medical scenario, and it's always a pleasure to be able to play with techniques developed at CERN! Presenting this work to other researchers at the European Network was a really enjoyable experience and winning a prize for my poster was very rewarding. Having my hard work recognised in an expert environment gives me the energy to continue on with my research.

 

Matthew - Wilkommen zum München!

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hi, I am Matthew and I will be blogging here about my experiences whilst studying an Erasmus semester abroad at the Technical University of Munich (TuM) in Munich, Germany.

First off a little about me. I have been studying the Civil and Architectural Engineering Course for the past four years, including a placement year with BuroHappold Engineering in Bath. I have had a great time so far – It has been challenging, interesting and I have loved living in Bath so what prompted me to up sticks and move roughly 700 miles away to study?

Firstly, I love getting to know people from different countries and cultures and I count myself lucky to have friends from places such as China, Norway, France, Brazil, USA, Italy, Poland…  A key part of Erasmus is “cultural interchange” so I am looking forward to meeting other Erasmus students as well as the German locals and expanding my international contacts list further!

Secondly, the opportunity to practice studying and working in a foreign country is a good one and I believe that the skills involved in doing this will help me hugely in my future career. Another reason is that I wanted to study a greater breadth of subjects whilst at university and, although Bath’s options are great, TuM offered a huge range of subjects to pick which made coming an easy decision. I also enjoy a good challenge so studying new subjects as well as building on others in perhaps a different way is something I am hoping to test myself with. Other reasons include wanting to visit Germany, as I have never been before, Traveling more widely to other countries nearby such as Austria and also trying to learn the German language.

I arrived in Munich at the weekend from Edinburgh, and am living just north of the city centre in a district called Schwabing. It’s a beautiful leafy area with some great architecture and lots of new buildings being built (annoying for most but interesting for a civil engineer!) and I am a ten minute walk away from the Muncher Freiheit area for shopping and the metro. This week I have registered with the local authorities (necessitating a three hour wait in a crowded waiting room for what ended up as a two minute appointment) and opened a bank account with Deutschbank in order to pay rent and gain a debit card. I have also been coordinating my courses and modules navigating around TuMs hideously complicated module selection process. Unlike at Bath,  students are expected to arrange their own learning - selecting the modules they wish to study, assessing the courses/credits attached to those modules then trying to build a timetable which inevitably contains clashes between different lectures/seminars. Despite the complexity it is nice to have an almost blank slate of units to choose from allowing me to pick subjects fairly different from what I would be doing in Bath. That said, I did have some limitations being required to undertake a good chunk of credits in “design” in order to negate missing the Basil Spence project.

In my spare time this week I have had a great time walking through the “Englischer Garten” an enormous park leading to the Munich Residence (a huge castle/palace) and also exploring the Olympic Park which contains Frei Otto’s Olympiastadion - one of my favourite buildings! The weather (yes, I am British after all!) is warmer and sunnier than at home which was a nice surprise when getting off the plane – however I am expecting it to get a lot colder and came prepared! I have yet to undergo the full Oktoberfest experience so that is planned for the end of this week.

The German language has also thrown up a few surprises including some abnormally long or unusual words. Therefore, the “German word of the week” for this blog post is:

“Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”

Any ideas what it might mean? Check back in my next post to find out the answer!

University welcome fortnight starts next Tuesday with lectures following after that so no doubt my next post will also contain some more information about what we have been up to and more about academic life! If you have any questions about Erasmus, Munich or anything else related to this blog then feel free to get in touch!

Until next time, Auf Wiedersen!

M

 

Team 2016 DTU - First Impressions

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Our first month here in Copenhagen has almost past, and I think it is safe to say we are all very settled here, and have taken the opportunities when arising to explore the city. By we, I refer to myself (Dominique Pitman), Ben Buckley and Will Millar-Smith.

DTU itself

As said in last years post, DTU is one of the best engineering Universities in Europe and the highest ranked of the Nordic countries. All the courses we take are taught in English, and we are all taking Structural Analysis, Sustainable Buildings, Smart Cities this semester, and a 3 week intensive course in January. I am the only one also taking Concrete Technology. It was pretty well planned out as we now all have Fridays off! Each lecture is 4 hours long (I know it sounds horrible) but they are generally broken up into lecture and tutorial time, which is actually great incentive to get tutorials and assignments done there and then, and where there is help available.

The work load has been fairly large, as we have no exams (I have one for concrete), so all the work is made up of various assignments throughout the semester, of which one (Sustainable Buildings) has been the most intense. As said in last years post, some of the things that the lecturers want are hard to understand

The only problem we have found is a lack of societies. We definitely take them for granted in the UK! That isn't to say there isn't anything but the selection is small, there is no competitive football team (only recreational), but there are a variety of bars and events on campus, such as this Friday, beers will only cost 5kr (about 60 pence!). Unfortunately I will be working at the bar at halls for a private event, but we have another party in the halls bar this Saturday!

Social Life and Accommodation

We have been to pub crawls (both in town and on campus), hall parties (in which I was bartending), the freetown of Christiania, Nyhavn, Tivoli, boat tours, and generally cycling around the city.

Learning how to make the cocktails

Learning how to make the cocktails

Unfortunately I missed both the introduction week (a kind of freshers week) and the first week of lectures as the terms starts fairly early (late August) and I had been working in Zambia as part of the University of Bath for 6 weeks (see A2Z if you are interested! - https://ace2zambia.wordpress.com/). However, it was fairly easy to get into the routine of getting up at 6am to get to 8am lectures, and cycling everywhere. We all live in the same accommodation in Tingbjerg, which although in a little bit out the way, is great for both town and campus, has cheap shops like Aldi and Lidl very close by, green parks with lakes, and the halls themselves are really nice, ensuites, large rooms, and a great shared kitchen (much better than the accommodation on campus).

Route from Tingbjerg to Lynby Campus
Route from Tinbjerg to Lyngby campus

Route from Tingbjerg to Lyngby campus

There as some intense hills, but on the way back it is pretty great!

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Route from Tingbjerg to town

Route from Tingbjerg to town

My bike was purchased from a second hand store for 1050kr (which including a new chain and lights), approximately £120. Bikes can be purchased cheaper, but since I wanted one straight away (to avoid having to pay for buses) I bought what was available quickly (and one that had gears, which Ben found out was very important since Copenhagen isn't as flat as you might think, and a basket for groceries). I am hoping to sell it for a similar price when I leave. Cycling can be manic within the city centre, but is such a great way to get around, and also great for your fitness!

A Copenhagen requirement - A BIKE! Nyhavn in the background

A Copenhagen requirement - A BIKE!  Mine is actually the one behind me. Nyhavn in the background

Comparing us to the guys last year, we were very lucky with accommodation and got our first choice. This area is full of immigrants and foreigners, and to be honest, I haven't actually got to know any Danes! But there are plenty of great people from all around, all of whom speak great English so is not really a problem 🙂

Travel

I have only recently purchased a rejsekort (a travel card which gives you half price discount), which you are able to purchase in some shops and metro stations. The cost was 80kr for the card itself, and I also had to pay 100kr credit. From where we live (Tingbjerg) to town, instead of 24kr paying by cash, it is only 12kr! Not bad for Copenhagen. The transport costs work by zones, so you can get on one bus, change, then get off in another zone and the price only depends on the zone you end up. However, should you forget to sign out there can be a very large fine! (about 700kr = £80). I wouldn't say public transport is the best, although we have a great bus link to town, getting to Lyngby campus is another story, with 3 buses involved and about 1.5 hours travel. Biking is definately the best way unless you own a car, and only take about 40 minutes (this might seem long but you get used to it very quickly).

The Sites

Christiania the freetown is a 40 minute bike ride away, just across the river and is a lovely place day and night, with a very different vibe. If you google it you will understand why, it has a very interesting history and sees a lot of tours!

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Shots of the freetown of Christiania

Shots of the freetown of Christiania

The skyline has a lot of spires, and the city itself is incredibly pretty, with little roads full of cafe's and life. We will find out if this remains the same through winter! There are lots of museums, and an incredible amusement park, it has an interesting mix of rides, shows, gigs, beautiful restaurants and a great view at night with all the lights lit up. Although not cheap, it is a great day out!

Next blog post will probably be more study orientated I'm sure!

 

DTU (First Week)

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hello,

(Sorry this post is a bit dated as I have had troubled logging into to upload this to the moodle page! But should still be useful)

My name is Will Millar-Smith and I am one of the current University of Bath students on Erasmus to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Copenhagen. DTU is one of the biggest Universities in Denmark, and has a really good rating as one of the best technical Nordic Universities. I have been told the number of people studying at DTU is similar to Bath, and in a way it is similar to Bath in that it is a Campus University outside of the city, however, it is almost four times the size in area and almost dwarfs the campus we have at Claverton Down.

I applied to undertake the Erasmus programme at DTU as I have always wanted to work and live outside of the UK, to see if it was something I would like to do once I graduate from University. Denmark (DTU) seemed like the ideal place to live in, with amazing scenery, style of life and a University that offered the courses in English. Although, this said attempting to learn a new language was also a large attraction as this is something I have never done (However, Danish appears to be extremely tricky to learn- be warned).

From living in Copenhagen for all of one week, it appears to be an incredibly friendly city with a strong focus on green and sustainable living. Everyone cycles everywhere on an impressive cycle network (which if you do choose to come to Denmark is a must in order to get about) or failing this makes use of a large public transport network. One word of warning I have noticed so far is that it is an incredibly expensive place, I would say cost wise more than London and transport is VERY expensive which I guess is a reason for everyone cycling everywhere. However, this said flight wise to London it is extremely well connected with budget airlines.

I guess it may be useful to talk about the application process and then go to introduction and getting settled into Denmark. Once you have been accepted by Bath University for the Moodle application to DTU there is a bit of a lull before you apply online and in paper to DTU official which I think has to be done in April. At this time you also have to pick your course modules from an online database in order to fit within a specific timetable, which is easier said than done. In total you have to take 30 ETCS credits which work out to be slightly more modules than you would in Bath but the term is a longer period so I guess it all evens out. Also you have to build your timetable to ensure no modules overlap as some take place at the same time (which is a bit annoying as it does rule out doing certain things). A module (5 ETCS) takes place across a 4 hour period from either 8-12 or 13-17. However, I have yet to have any lectures so I cannot comment on this style of learning yet.

Once you have applied and been accepted by DTU then comes the rush! DTU is heavily oversubscribed and lacks a lot student accommodation! I think it makes the Bath rush around Christmas seem over dramatized for the student housing. Copenhagen itself also seems to have a limited number of student style or just rented apartments which then further compounds this problem. As will be pointed out to you, DTU provides no guarantee of accommodation so when the email comes through to apply it is a big rush to look at the DTU accommodation on offer and apply quickly as it works on a first come first saved basis. Also a word of warning, this isn’t a thinly veiled comment, I have met many people who are currently in hostels or airbnb rooms, as the lack of accommodation is severe. There is a range of accommodation on offer, as mentioned before DTU is a campus university location roughly 17km from central Copenhagen. They have accommodation on campus called Campus Village (Which reminded me of shipping containers – it looked pretty poor when I visited last week), other student halls on campus, student halls located across the city suburbs, student houses to the North of the campus (further away from Copenhagen) and the option of living with a family around the city itself (which some friends do seem to be enjoying). I and two others from Bath opted for student accommodation in the suburbs of Copenhagen, where we have ended up in Tingbjerg which is in the north west of the city. The map below should be able to give you some scale from the city, our halls and the campus.

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The location of our halls (Tingbjerg) to DTU. Note the distance to Copenhagen as well!

The student residence we are staying in is slightly odd; you stay in a building made from large corridors with up 15 other students all living off the corridor and all sharing a kitchen which is really nice as it is very sociable. The rooms have all been recently renovated with en-suites, and within the student halls itself there is also a bar and gym so there is plenty of activities to be doing. However, a slight moan would be the student halls are not just for students from DTU and are used my people studying at Universities all over Copenhagen. So not everyone is in the same boat as you, some people I have met have been living there for five years, so when you first arrive it is a bit of a shock that it is not a load of nervous international students all studying and joining DTU at the same time. So that could be a bit overwhelming, however, I have found everyone to be extremely friendly and sociable so far! I really can’t complain, it is a bit of a hassle getting to campus without a bike (roughly an hour on public transport) but now I have one it is roughly 30 mins to campus and 30 to the city (which I think is great! Providing lots of opportunities to nip into town to explore, see the sights and go out on an evening).

At DTU they run an introduction week for new exchange students in order to allow you to meet new people, make friends and also learn about the University and how it works. The week is very different to a typical English fresher’s week with more activities during the day which include lessons about Danish Culture, language lessons and team bonding activities, there was also opportunities to have a tour around the city which was very useful! I attended the week, and to be fair even though it was different; I really enjoyed it and it was a great way to meet new people! Although it isn’t as alcohol/night out focused as a British fresher’s week, every evening most people ended up in the bar so it was a good way to socialise and they also held a large party on the last night.

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Me and my buddy group on the city tour ( I am the small one, with the checked shirt)

I will try and write another blog once I have had some lectures to provide more information on this side of the Erasmus programme and also on how it is going during term time. If you have any questions or would like further information about DTU give me a message on Facebook or drop me an email at wfms20@bath.ac.uk and I will be more than happy to help.

 

 

 

 

 

Men in Pool & Other Stories

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

A short overview of what I’ve been working on over the past month and more about the construction business game MERIT that our team from BuroHappold participated in.

Merit Competition

Throughout March and April, I took part in a construction business simulation competition called MERIT (standing for Management Enterprise Risk Innovation and Teamwork) with a team set up together with five other young engineers from BuroHappold. The aim of the competition is to put you and your teammates in charge of making all the business and managerial decisions of a virtual construction company, while competing to grow your business against teams from all around the globe.

The game was set up so that each week, as a team, we could evaluate our company’s progress throughout the previous week and, using the MERIT software, enter a new set of decisions. These covered a range of relevant areas including finance (investments in other firms and paying out dividends to shareholders), overhead staffing (coping with company turnover and conducting market analysis), bidding for new jobs and ensuring ongoing jobs had enough labour and competent managers.

Concentration levels intensified as we developed elaborate spreadsheets

We encountered some problems during the running of our company.  For example, we had been hiring a lot of workforce to cope with a high number of projects, but when we were unsuccessful in qualifying for new jobs, we were instead left with a large number of idle workforce, or ‘free men in pool’ as MERIT liked to phrase it. This might sound like a lot of fun for the workers, but for us it meant a lot of lost funds. Therefore, we had to make the decision of whether to lay off the excessive construction staff or keep them ‘in the pool’ in hopes of soon qualifying for more jobs. But not to worry! After long calculations and some moral dilemmas hardly any staff were deemed to be worth giving up.

During the first week or two, it proved to be quite challenging to take in a lot of information as well as having to familiarise ourselves with the nitty gritty of how the software itself operated. Having said that, the whole process helped me really appreciate how decisions made in different managerial positions interact and affect each other in the long term. Overall, the competition lasted for 10 weeks and, in addition to learning about all the different business functions, it was a really fun teamwork exercise!

The final meeting featuring glorious pizza

Platform design for KAFD Metro

On a more serious note,  in addition to MERIT, I have been doing some actual work as well. For the past month I have mostly been working on the design of the platform structure, which supports two train lines for the KAFD Metro in Riyadh. On top of analysing any basic loading such as supporting its own weight or the pedestrian traffic, one main design criterion is that the structure has to be strong enough to withstand any accidental loads. In the very worst cases, these accidental loads could be caused by the derailment of a train or collision of two trains. Although extremely unlikely, accidental loads are all still some of the most important factors affecting the final design of the platform.

Architect’s vision of the interior of the station by the platform level, image copyright of ZHA

To start with, I looked into the relevant design code and calculated the various criteria that the platform has to be designed for. I went on to set up more than a hundred loading variations on Excel which I could then import and easily amend later in the engineering software we had used to create the model. Due to the very high collision loads, the platform had to be redesigned in some local cases. In these instances, it was important to stick to the most minimal but effective changes so as to keep the amended design as close to the original. Bits of the platform are still being finalised with the architects and so this is all still a work in progress; therefore, until the next time!

Screenshot from Robot Structural Engineer with a view of the platform model

 

A Key Ingredient in Ice Cream Production...

  

📥  Department of Chemical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

I am now 10 months in to my placement with Unilever, and life in the Ice Cream Global Design Centre has not been easy! Since my last blog post, I have started working on a number of new projects that have been keeping me busy, making the days and weeks fly by.

The Wall's Bike - Doesn't every office have one of these?

The Wall's Bike - Doesn't every office have one of these?

Over my time working with Unilever, I have learnt how incredibly complex ice cream is. Simply mixing some water, cream, sugar and flavours together, and then putting this in the freezer will not necessarily give you ice cream. There are a number of very important steps to follow that process the ingredients in a way that affect the texture, taste and quality of the final product.

One of the projects I have been working on since I started my placement involves studying and analysing the very first step of making ice cream – the mixing process. This process involves dosing and mixing the ingredients, and is the key factor in ensuring all ingredients are fully blended, dispersed and hydrated within the mix.

As with all mixing processes, certain levels of shear occur in the mixing vessel that arise from the stirring motion of the impeller. The shear in the mix tank is dependent on a number of factors, including the dimensions of the tank, the type of impeller and the nature of the fluid being mixed. Part of my project involved building and developing a tool that is able to model and calculate a number of mixing parameters – including the shear in the mix tank.

After being able to characterise shear in mixing vessels, I worked on improving the company’s knowledge on the effect this shear has on the ice cream produced. This involved running a number of trials in the pilot plant and analysing the ice cream premix and product in a number of ways.

As well as the work I carried out in the pilot plant, the project also involved building a network of contacts with mix plant managers across Unilever’s ice cream factories in Europe. From an R&D point of view, this was a great insight for me to see what supply chain is like and how the factories operate.

Unlike many of my other projects, I worked on this assignment alone – something I am quite accustomed to after 3 years of university coursework. However, working independently on a project in the workplace has felt quite different. Rather than your work just ending up as a grade, other members of your team may depend on the results and outcomes of your task, meaning every assignment must be carried out quickly, efficiently and to the highest standard.

With the end of my placement fast approaching, I plan to make the most out of the few months remaining by learning as much as I possibly can whilst improving my workplace skills.